Cover Photo: Carine06 / Wikimedia Commons

The tennis player's Australian deportation has many debating about the merits and demerits of vaccination... but who is the biggest loser in this controversy?

It's been one hell of a new year for Novak Djokovic.

The Siberian tennis player might have completed the ATP tour with an impressive finish after winning five titles last year, securing one ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Paris Masters, an ATP 250 tournament in the Belgrade Open, and three Grand Slam trophies in the Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. But a completely different affair awaited him at the Land Down Under.

See also: Novak Djokovic: 5 Things To Know About The Tennis Player

One would think that the nine-time Australian Open champion would be welcomed with open arms on his return to Australia, but his arrival was met with more controversy.

The tennis world No.1 was quite confident that he could play in the Australian Open as he was given an exemption from Australia's COVID-19 vaccination protocols. Although it was unclear that he had already been vaccinated, the uncertainty caused quite a stir. Given Djokovic's stance against vaccination and after learning he was exempted despite testing positive for COVID-19 in December, people have the right to be enraged.

See also: Omicron Fact Check: Do Viruses Become Less Deadly To Survive?

The Serbian tennis player flew to the country only to learn that officials have cancelled his visa and announced that they are sending him back. Djokovic was denied entry as officials reveal that he was not qualified for the exemption.

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People have openly criticised Djokovic. Rafael Nadal, currently the tennis world No.6, expresses his concern during a press conference. "I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions a lot of months ago," Nadal says.

Matteo Berrettini would agree as he states in an interview, "I can understand why Australian people obviously feel that way. . . I think Melbourne had the longest lockdown in the world so I can understand these people."

Over at Twitter, pundit and former tennis player Pam Shriver also weighed in at the conversation, saying, "Even more questions about Novak’s decision making and integrity because either he falsified his Dec 16th positive test, or disregarded quarantine safety protocols putting children and vulnerable people at risk in the days that followed. If he plays the booing will be deafening."

However, as it turns out, Djokovic will not be stepping inside the court at all as the Australian Court denies his visa.

Fans of the defending champion might be dismayed by the final ruling after Djokovic was released just six days after being confined in a detention facility in Melbourne while he underwent a legal battle, which further fanned the flame as people question Djokovic's immediate release while 35 asylum seekers remain confined in the detention facility.

The court had arrived at a decision—one that significantly impacts the wellbeing of the Australian people.

The country might have hit its target of having 80 per cent of its people over 16 years old vaccinated, but the public remains on guard as people begin to succumb to the Omicron variant. This is enough to cause distress among the public, and watching a sceptic like Djokovic waltz into the country with a medical exemption does not help at all. Although Djokovic indeed has the right to want what's best for his body as he once stated, his actions have been perceived incredibly insensitive and unfair for the lot who have followed the simplest protocols—isolation and vaccination—considering that the COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Djokovic's case has no doubt stirred conversations left and right, from the medical and sports fields alike. While many speak on the merits and demerits of vaccination, it would seem that the biggest loser among all (even more than Djokovic himself) would be the Tennis community itself—whose months-long preparation for the much-anticipated Open has been overshadowed by the player's controversy.


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